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Ryan Zinke
  Senate Energy Hearing on Interior Budget  CSPAN  March 13, 2018 12:34pm-2:00pm EDT

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national p.t.a. legislative conference in arlington, virginia. it begins at 2:30 p.m. on c-span3. and earlier the senate and natural resources committee held a hearing on the president's 2019 budget request for the interior department. interior secretary ryan zinke testified. you can watch this entire hearing at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. while we wait for the house to gavel back in, we'll take a look at a portion of this morning's hearings. -- morning's hearing. secretary zinke: thank you, madam chairman, ranking member, committee members, for the opportunity to offer my support for the president's 2019 budget for the department of interior. with your permission i'd like to submit my entire record -- senator murkowski: it will be included as part of the record. secretary zinke: the president has made it very clear about his priorities. he spent the first year in office keeping the promises he's made to the american people and there are many
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promises and there are many promises kept. this budget is a major step towards keeping another one of the public -- president's promises -- rebuilding our infrastructure. the president is a builder and the son of a plumber, as i am. i look forward to working with the president on restoring america's greatness to an historic investment of our public lands infrastructure. this is the largest investment in our public lands infrastructure in our nation's history. let me repeat that. this is the largest investment in our public lands infrastructure in the history of this country. our public lands are our greatest treasures, but they have suffered serious neglect from our nation's leaders over the years from both sides. our interior deferred maintenance backlog is $16 billion. $11.6 billion can be found in
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our national park service alone. this includes everything from our roads, bridges, tunnels, visitors' centers and restrooms. at the grand canyon national park, as an example, visitors receive water from an obsolete pipeline that's broken more than 80 times since 2010. it has forced emergency rationing, costing millions of dollars to fix over and over again. the president's budget proposal requires legislation for a new public lands infrastructure fund to address deferred maintenance problem and this is a legislative priority. the fund would provide up to $18 billion over 10 years for maintenance and improvements in our national parks, our national wildlife refuges and bureau of indian education funds. similar to the water -- land and water conservation fund, it would be funded from energy
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revenues -- all energy, not just oil and gas, all energy from public lands. the budget also includes $1.3 billion for construction repairs. infrastructure is not merely an expense. it's an investment. improved infrastructure is an economic driver. our public lands should be for the benefit and enjoyment of the people as the roosevelt afternoon in the yellowstone national park so proudly proclaims. in 2016, 330 million visitors went through our park system. half a billion through the interior lands. it's estimated that those visitors spent $18.4 billion in our parks alone, and overall recreation is an $887 billion in consumer spending and employs 7.6 million people. all americans should have the
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opportunity to enjoy a national park, but without an investment in our infrastructure to go along with a record setting amount of visitors, we are loving our parks to death. i was pleased to join senators alexander, king, danes, heinrich, gardner, tillis, manchin this week in introducing the national parks restoration act which follows the blueprint set in the department's budget. it is bipartisan. along with being the chief steward of our public lands, i'm also responsibility for the education of 48,000 american indian students that deserve a world-class education too. the public lands infrastructure fund supports 150 bureau of indian education schools in 23 states. the school maintenance backlog stands at about $634 billion. also across indian country, the opioid epidemic is a major
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problem, along with drugs. with the president's leadership we're cracking down on drug dealers who are selling out to our kids. this proposal -- this budget proposal invests in joint federal efforts like opioid task force that we've already conducted. we are also seeing a great opportunity to reorganize the department of interior for the next hundred years, just as teddy roosevelt did a century ago. as a retired navy seal commander, i believe giving more authority to the front lines where it should reside so decisions can be made at the local level rather than washington, d.c. clearly the one-size-fits-all model has been ineffective. this budget includes $18 million to begin shifting resources to the frontline in the field to establish unified regional boundaries for interior bureaus. this organization will enable us to achieve our core mission of stewardship. in planning this organization,
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i've taken account feedback from congress, governors, interior employees and the stakeholders. it's a reorganization based on science. watersheds, wildlife corridors, we brought in our professionals to look at it, adjust the boundaries to make sure they're practical and i met with the governors. like roosevelt a century ago, we want to achieve the greatest good for the greatest term using best science and best practices. this budget also recognizes the american strength on our american energy. under president trump, we're pursuing an american energy dominance policy. last year was much about energy. this year's a pivot about conservation, infrastructure, and reorganization. the president has delivered on his promise of energy. this budget includes $43 million for american energy development to continue our mission.
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presently we stand at 10.6 million barrels a year in our country. first time in 60 years we're exporting liquid natural gas. all told our budget request for fiscal year 2019 is $11.7 billion with a proposed transfer of the department of defense for a compact that raises to $11.8 billion. this budget clearly lays out top priorities of the administration and speaks to the priorities of the american people. rebuilding our infrastructure, fixing our schools, achieving energy dominance, and holding the line for fiscal responsibility. above all, we do it in a responsible manner, understanding we are the steward of our greatest treasures. with that i'm happy to take your questions. senator murkowski: and, again, i will -- i'll repeat my thanks or your he focus on the energy side of the business that you
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and the president clearly addressed last year and we have i think a great deal to do to fulfill what was begun, but we have made considerable progress and i look forward to even more of that. i'm going to keep my questions this morning relatively parochial to alaska. i know members will have questions about the parks backlog and the reorganization and i will go broader in the second round but let me first begin, mr. secretary, with the eastern interior resource management plan. as you know, this came down in the last few days of the obama administration, and one of those plans in particular -- this is the 40-mile district -- turned a management regime that had worked for decades to literally turn it on its head. we have gold miners in the 40-mile district that had some
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real trouble working out standards for revegetation. and this has been really quite problematic. so the question for you this morning is whether or not we have any administrative -- excuse me -- administrative options to address some of the very valid concerns that exist with regards to this 40-mile plan, if you're willing to work with us to help restore balance to that plan and specific to the revegetation standards, if we can find a solution to help our miners out in that area? secretary zinke: well, thank you for that question, and restoring trust and being a good partner is what interior should be. the government should not be an adversary. and that's been clear across the states and some policies have been not willing to be developed where you listen to the local populations. while i did have the deputy secretary and our a.s.l. up
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there talking to the 40-mile miners, there are some administrative procedures we can do. we're looking at streamlining it. reclamation and mining as a geologist, the fair proposition is, if you're going to develop on federal land, there needs to be a reclamation plan to make sure it's returned to as good or better condition than what you found it. there are a number of advanced technologies in reclamation that we need to incorporate into our regulate framework to ensure that happens. oftentimes our regulations do not take into account innovation. they don't take into account science or best practices. so when a regulate framework becomes punitive on an industry and the local population views it as targeting, then there's a breach of trust. so we are aware of it and we
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look forward to working with you and the good folks out there to make sure we have a path forward. senator murkowski: well, and i thank you with the willingness to work with us. again, these are the small -- some of them are the smallest of the small gold miners that are operating out there and, ain, in an area and in a manner that is certainly sensitive to the environment. they've been able to make it work well for decades. we want to be able to return it to that but we need -- we need some working with the administration on this. another effort in rural alaska is the ambler road which would help to facilitate not only minerals but jobs in the region. and there is an issue that is coming up right now with regards to permits and approval for ambler road. and one issue is whether or not
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the park service can complete its assessment prior to the mpletion of the nepa and the e.i.s. that comes within it. and it's been one of these situations where we just can't seem to get all of the agencies on the same page. so all i'm asking for this morning is your commitment to work with the army corps on this issue so we can make sure that basically our federal agencies are working together instead of a little bit here, a little bit there. it needs to be -- it needs to be more coordinated and your assist on this would be appreciated. secretary zinke: and thank you and i agree with you. part of the frustration has been multiple agencies involved in the same project with different objectives, different locations independently producing multiple biological opinions which results in
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delay, arbitrary results. so part of the reorganization in interior is to address just that. making sure the arms of the government work together to produce the best possible outcome given based on science, based on best practices, longest good, greatest term. so we are working and i'm happy to report we're going to have the decision on it shortly. we have the lead. we're working with the army corps of engineers. the president also has tasked us to look heavily at the army corps of engineers to see if we can't look at streamlining the process with the army corps of engineers which effects a lot of our projects. they are really good people but some of it the way the system is set up doesn't allow them to move forward and this is an example. senator murkowski: well, it is an example and i appreciate the focus from within the department on permitting and some of the regulate overlap
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that we just get snarled up with. so the effort that has been made to move forward on a permitting perspective has been appreciated. we just need more in that area. senator cantwell. senator cantwell: you are asking working americans to pay higher fees on entering national parks, is that correct? secretary zinke: our proposal looked at multiple options on our parks. one of them was to look at our top 10 parks or so and look at different peak season. and our proposal also looks at our past. i spent a lot of time in the kiosk and it's amazing on our parks which the maintenance, as you know, we're far behind, but when you give discounted or fourth es to elderly, graders, veterans, disabled,
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and do you it by the carload there is not a whole lot of people that actually pay at our front door. as well as you have a lot of foreign guests, a lot of population. so we're looking at ways to make sure we have more revenue in the front door in our parks because when you have a park like raniere, the money they receive coming in the front gate, i want make sure more of that goes to the park superintendent so he has flexibility on how to spend it. right now much comes back to washington, d.c., and the superintendents don't have enough flexibility, in my opinion, to spend the money. park fees does not and will not ever address $11.7 billion. it just won't. but a lot of our parks have record visitation. certainly last year we expect them to have record visitation
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again and we're looking at the proposal of many different options. one of them is during peak season raising the rate. we have not yet concluded and likely we're going to look at it to make sure there's not any unintended consequences. senator cantwell: am i understanding your statement that you think we should raise them on veterans and fourth graders? secretary zinke: no. what i'm saying is this. we subsidize and we allow by design a lot of people to go through. if you're in a car and you have a veteran in the car, everyone, whether they are a veteran or not, is free in that car. same thing with the disabled. same thing with an elderly on passes. basically one person with a pass, everyone in that car comes in for free. now, whether or not that's correct, we're looking at it. but what clearly is the case is we have an $11.7 billion
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backlog. the greatest bargain in america is the $80 a year pass. i just took my kids to the theater and after going to paying the ticket at the theater and having popcorn it's more than $80. this is a pass all year around. so we are looking at ways to make sure that revenue coming in the door of our principal parks is appropriate. making sure we still have value. because american parks belong to the public. they belong to all americans and everyone should have access. senator cantwell: we think we should be increasing access, not disincentivizing it. so i want to ask you about this issue about the agency and spending money on things that may not be in the public's interest. you took a private jet home from las vegas. do you think that was a mistake? secretary zinke: well, first, insults, inwednesdayos are misleading. i never took a -- innuendos are misleading.
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i never took a private jet. the previous secretary took 80 trips under $1 million. i took three trips. one of them was with the senator, your chair, on a prop plane. a second one was with the governor of the virgin islands and the prime minister -- again, a prop jet, in between islands to make sure we were on time. nd the third was to take a light across nevada to meet an 8:00 a.m. meeting with a governor of montana for the governors conference. i resent the fact of your insults. i'll go through line by line. you know what, also is, sally jewell, i think she was right. i think her travel patterns even though she took a private chartered airplane was met by
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helicopter, did a hike, i think she was right but a as interior she was out hiking and doing what she was supposed to be doing. so given that a flight from the north slope down to anchorage with the chair to allege it's a private jet is inappropriate. senator cantwell: well -- secretary zinke: ma'am. senator cantwell: mr. secretary, i have given you ample time. i simply asked you about the question about the private trip to vegas. i guess we'll give you the question in writing. we are looking at the larger issue how time and money is spent. and the reason why we are is because of our citizens who want to know why their park fees are going up and they're reading these stories. so i think that the i.g. said that the agency made a mistake when it was prying to use wildfire preparedness money to take helicopter tours in nevada when that wasn't the purpose. so what we want is to see the answers and transparency within the agency.
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so we'll ask you again for the written record and hopefully we'll get a more succinct answer. senator murkowski: senator barrasso. senator barrasso: thank you very much, mr. secretary, for being here. great seeing you again. i appreciate your testimony and acknowledgment there are many issues fate facing the department that are requiring immediate attention. last year during the hearing we spoke about the several billion-dollar problems facing the department. wild horse and borough management, deferred maintenance backlog. the department has offered serious proposals for raising additional revenue. how do you envision these programs would work together to deliver funds on the ground? secretary zinke: we face a number of challenges in interior. ne of them is we have multiple bureaus with different retion -- regions. the regions are not based on equal systems, watersheds, so structurally is it's very
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difficult for an old department like interior to work together. i give the example of a fish and trout in the same stream. upstream you have a dam. downstream you have irrigation. in that stream goes by a forest service holding, the salmon are managed by bureau of -- by commerce. the fish are fish and wildlife by me. upstream, watersheds, temperatures are generally army corps of engineers. downstream, irrigation is bureau of reclamation. forest service holding surface is the department of ag. subsurface is b.l.m. same stream, same issue, you can have multiple biological opinions produced independently with different results, some of them nonreconcilable. so i think we should look at making things like recreation, permitting, and nepa to do it
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jointly to rearrange our regions to be unified based on watersheds and science. that will be enormously helpful. recreation, our trail systems should connect. our nepa system should be on the same page of the original scope. nepa and permitting need to be separate because of the conflict of interest. but permitting also should be joint, all stakeholders, including the states, should be there in the beginning. the department of defense went through a reorganization act in 1983, as you know. we fight forest fires this way jointly. but when we manage our lands, we are not in a joint scenario which i think is -- will be the biggest help in eliminating some of the bureaucracy. senator barrasso: thank you very much, mr. secretary. january 26 of this year the b.l.m. issued a draft environmental impact statement for the converse county oil and gas project. project for wyoming. the b.l.m. estimates that this
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project is going to bring 8,000 jobs. as much as $28 billion in economic activity to the state. i have concerns that the b.l.m.'s draft environmental impact statement needs to be revised to maximize the success of the project. specifically, the draft e.i.s. doesn't include clear guidance for year round drilling and it doesn't fully acknowledge the ongoing work by the state of wyoming. specifically to implement our guidance on the greater sage grass protection. the timely correction of these errors and completion of the environmental review for in project is critical to the state's economy and our nation's energy security. so i ask you, mr. secretary, if you'll work to ensure the b.l.m. will complete the final e.i.s. in a timely manner and issue a record of decision that's consistent with the administration's commitment to achieving energy dominance. secretary zinke: we certainly will commit to working with you and making sure the e.i.s. is
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fair and make sure it takes into consideration the stewardship responsibilities as well as the president's energy dominance policy. as -- you know, secretary of interior, it's really two sides. even roosevelt said that conservation is as much development as it is protection. and as interior i have responsibilities on both sides. so i am not oil and gas centric. i am american energy centric. and there are places where drilling for oil is absolutely appropriate and there are places that are not. and so that's why we have nepa. that's why the process of nepa has been the backbone of what i think is strong and appropriate policy in this country. so weighing into it, our commitment is to get the e.i.s. out, make sure it's done fairly, make sure it's based on science and then from there, we'll make the best determination we can. senator barrasso: finally, mr.
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secretary, last year when you testified before the committee on the department's budget, i asked you to take steps to ensure the b.l.m. field offices like the one in kasper, have sufficient resources to -- casper, have sufficient resources to clear the sizeable backlog. i'm encouraged by the progress that the department has made on this. also encouraged the attention you and the dep suit secretary from sage grass to cooperation among the agencies you oversee. so i look forward to continuing to work with you and your staff to resolve the lingering concerns with the department's proposed action for the moose wilson road in the grand teton national park and i encourage you to work with stakeholders across the west as we move forward with your ambitious proposals to reorganize the department. thank you, madam chairman. senator murkowski: thank you, senator barrasso. senator wyden. senator wyden: mr. secretary, during your confirmation hearing you mentioned teddy
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roosevelt nine times. oregonians have a strong appreciation for roosevelt as a conservationist and as a president. with his signature he created the crater lake national park and it is the deepest lake in the united states known for its beautiful blue. . two million acres, sacrificed for private exploitation. second, you proposed opening america's precious coast to offshore oil drilling. only to walk it back in one state where it seemed there was
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a potential republican senate candidate who opposed it. i could tell you in our state, orr gonians don't want to look out over haystack rock and see oil darics. third, during the most expensive wildfire season in recorded history, you played a shell game with the wildfire account at interior to pay for unrelated helicopter ride, and this is another matter that the inspector general is looking at. unrelated helicopte so my first question, mr. secretary, is, would teddy roosevelt be sitting where you are today advocating the virtual elimination of the land and water conservation fund? secretary zinke: mr. senator, i challenge you to give me one -- senator wyden: i'd like a response to the question, mr. secretary. time is short.
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secretary zinke: it is short. and i challenge you to give me one square inch of land that's been removed from federal protection, one square inch. in the case of bears ears, as after ed, bears ears restored 400,000 acres of wilderness, after i restored almost an entire national forest, the boundary of the evised bears ears is still larger than zion and bryce canyon combined. what i did do is increase public access. and larger than traditional rights. under the trump administration at interior we have actually increased wilderness last year. specifically in new mexico. and i worked with the delegation in utah because utah where bears ears and staircase is, the entire congressional delegation, including your colleagues, and the governor wanted it it rescinded. i didn't rescind it --
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senator wyden: you have used almost half my time. could you give me a reason -- explanation for whether teddy roosevelt sitting where you are would advocate a budget that virtually eliminates the land and water conservation fund? p secretary zinke: i believe the land and water conservation makes $1 2 million available. it does not add more property into the federal estate. but our budget also has the investment in the history of this country investm history of this country on three critical areas. one is maintenance backlog of our park system. two, maintenance backlog of our wildlife refuge system, which teddy roosevelt initiated. and thirdly, making sure we meet the treaty obligations of 48,000 american native kids. that's the largest investment in the history of this country. so i believe teddy roosevelt would be proud of the focus on preserving, protecting, and
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maintaining our treasures. senator wyden: what i asked you because it is in your budget, is whether he would support something that is so fundamental, for example, to what you said in your prepared statement, which was increasing access to public lands. and i'm quite certain that teddy roosevelt would not be here defending the virtual elimination of land and water conservation fund. i want to close on a personal note. mr. secretary, you and i talked a lot before your confirmation. and i felt in an attempt to build a bridge to work with you , particularly in a state where the federal government owns most of the land, i would support your nomination. and i did. i voted for your nomination. and i will tell you right now as of today it is one of the
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biggest regrets of my time in public service. thank you, madam chair. senator murkowski: senator portman. senator portman: thank you, madam chair. secretary zinke, thanks for joining us today. good to see you. we have talked about our shared passion for the national parks on a number of occasions. the 11th visited park in the country. and also ohio's home to other great national park sites including the dayton heritage national historical park. where the wright brothers' great work is preserved. like you i'm very concerned about the $12 billion maintenance backlog at our parks. that's why i'm pleased that with the help of chairman murkowski and ranking member we ere able to able to pass the national park service centennial act. at the end of 2016 as you may recall. that has worked in the sense
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that it provides funding that is matched. we think about $65 million from the federal government that's gone into this challenge project has resulted in about $500 million in nonfederal funds. a lot of it comes from the national park foundation. and they say $460 million since 2016. so that's helping. and again i thank chairman murkowski for ensuring the sen tenal -- centennial challenge a part of this which can leverage private sector funding was included in the f.y. 2017 omnibus bill, 20 million bucks in 2017. 15 million in 2016. my question for you is how can we ensure we have a stable level of funding for that centennial challenge? in the legislation which codified something that congress had done by procreations, we also included a funding source.
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and that was to be sure that the senior pass was reformed so that we would receive some funding on an annual basis to be deposited into the centennial challenge. my question for you is, how much has the centennial challenge fund received, if you can tell us today, as a result of the senior pass. how much do you expect to be deposited into the f.y. 201, f.y. 2019 as a result of the increase. secretary zinke: thank you for the question. in the budget is $15 million for the centennial park challenge fund. i have talked to the national park foundation, they have done wonderful job. their target actually of raising private funds is just under $1 billion this year. i believe they'll make it. we have a good board. as you know when you are addressing an $11.7 billion backlog, even though the centennial was a great program,
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it did not meet the requirement of funding of our parks. last effort was mission 66 back from 1956 to 1966 which was a great effort and much of our buildings today are a reflection of that program. senator portman: let me interrupt you. as i look at the f.y. 2019 budget there you-all, don't see funding for the centennial challenge with the exception of the senior pass. again we fought hard to get this funding into the appropriations bills and the c.r.'s and now under the omnibus. again chairman murkowski this year has been a leader on that. so my question to you was, i have -- secretary zinke: i have $15 million in it. mandatory it funding at $15 million. in 2019. senator portman: is that from the senior pass? secretary zinke: i'll figure out whether it's from the senior pass. it's offsetting collections
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which i believe it is. senator portman: that's my -- secretary zinke: it should be. senator portman: that would be an historical level. if that happens, great. would you want to work with us to ensure we have the appropriations to be able to continue this important part of the overall effort to deal with the maintenance backlog. i agree it's not enough, but it's critical that we have it. broader question is, how do you get at this $12 billion in a more significant way? as you know i have introduced legislation i worked on the last couple years with senator warner, the national park legacy act. it provides funds from oil and gas revenues for maintenance backlog projects. my question to you there is, can you commit to working with us on the legacy act to be sure we can take these oil and gas revenues and provide faunding source to deal with the deferred maintenance backlog? secretary zinke: i certainly can. to be clear the proposal that's in the budget is capped at $18
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billion. the proposal that i do support is taking and addressing how do you get to $18 billion and have the revenue? i think it's a fair proposition if you look at energy across the board, whether it's wind, solar, mining, any energy then i think if you're going to gain resource and wealth from public lands, then a fair proposition is you should also contribute to the maintenance backlog and preservation of those lands. that's where the $18 billion comes from. we think that we can get there in eight years. given the scale of what's occurred. especially if alaska comes online. senator portman: i hope you'll work with us. your proposal as we look at it does not have guaranteed funding because you are assuming treasury has an estimate of what's going to come in. anything over that estimate would be provided for maintenance backlog. our legislation is different. it provides for that funding as
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a secure source. in other words, it's guaranteed. i know that you worked with other senators i know that you other senators apparently on another proposal. we have been at this a while. we think we have a good proposal. bipartisan. i hope you would be willing to work with us on this proposal as well. secretary zinke: absolutely. i'll work wufment i think we both share the same issue we have to address long term. so 10 years from now we don't back and we're still behind. i think it's a long-term solution. i do think we're similar on energy. i'm more inclusive. i include wind and everything that is on federal land. i would love to work with you on it. back and we're still senator portman: another few questions for the record. thanks for being here. senator murkowski: senator smith. senator smith: thank you, madam chair and secretary zinke, nice to meet you. i'd like to ask you about the lewis and clark regional water system which as i'm sure you know is a critically needed
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water project that serves south dakota and iowa and minnesota. so our states have been awaiting federal funding from reclamation to complete this project which was authorized about reclamation to complete this project which was authorized about 18 years ago. when it finally finished it's going to be a vital source of drinking water and also a very important economic development in our three states. southern part of minnesota where's actually a real shortage of water. the federal funding for this has been delayed and of course as you know how this goes, ultimately means that it ends up costing in our three more. the estimate is that it's -- current funding levels we would be completed with this project by 2048, costing the taxpayers an additional $55 million. in the mean tile while, the states including mine, have been filling this gap. so that the project can continue. my question is this, in the president's budget there is
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$100,000 for this project, which is clearly not a serious number. would you agree with that? secretary zinke: overall the budget includes about $34 million in it. the president's infrastructure has a significant. 25% as a rule. you're right, at the end of the day the budget is difficult the bureau of reclamation. we think there's some flexibility in infrastructure. particularly when it you're rig bureau of reclamation holdings. i'm from montana. there's a saying is that whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting. montana, too, on the east side has a number of these legacy projects from bureau of reclamation that need federal assistance. the grand bargain when bureau of reclamation was put in place
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was the federal government would come in and invest and then over time the land users, the water users, would pay for it and that title would be transferred. we have enormous amount of holdings that we have not transferred title, even though the water districts have now paid for the projects. but we still are responsible for maintaining them. i think in the budget also we ask for some authority, if those projects now are in a good place to transfer, so we can be relieved of the maintenance responsibilities, that will allow us additional funding to do what the bureau of reclamation was intended to do. senator smith: i appreciate your agreeing with that. i would ask for your commitment to continue to work on this. i think it is an extremely important -- to all three of our states. coming from -- originally from new mexico i understand the
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vital importance of water. thanks for that. i would -- sounds like you're willing to work with us on that. secretary zinke: i committed -- i think rural water is so important for a number of reasons. i have always -- i think i had the best guys as far as brenda and allen in the bureau of reclamation team. they are from rural places. they are committed. i'm committed to work with you on this project. senator smith: thank you very much. i was going to touch on the land and matter conservation fund, i think that senator wyden has covered that for us. just a few minutes i have left i would like to highlight something which i think is important to minnesota is that is in the budget which is the important pit -- pilt program. in northern minnesota we have lots of forestland and federal land in addition that means that our huge northern counties are -- suffer because of a lack
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of property tax base. i hear about this from our county commissioners all the time. just appreciate how important the payment in lieu of taxes program is for not only minnesota but many western states as well. just wanted to see if you had any more comment on that important -- secretary zinke: we appropriated $465 million, which was the same level. and again i'm from montana. timber town at one time. but it would be nice if the federal government would be better partners. so the federal lands could be used in a responsible manner. but minnesota, one time we had of smaller timber mills out there where people could gain some land and wealth. it's a challenge when the federal government of smaller t is the
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biggest landholder and there is no economic viable business there. with pilt we understand we raise it to the 2017 level. we heard clearly from the west last time on pilt. we remain committed to it. senator smith:thank you very much. senator murkowski: senator cass any. senator cassidy: congratulations on your leadership. the chair of the committee mentioned at the outset over the last year morale's diversity has improved. not bad for a navy seal commander. good for you. let me thank you for being here. thanks for visiting south louisiana. our coastline is vanishing. we have had a hard time getting permits to repair our delta. by the time we get the permits the delta is gone. thank you for your commitment to make that work. thank you for the decision and the proposed budget to maintain the payments to the gulf states. we need that money to rebuild our coastline. let me get a couple things
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straight. they are giving you heck for taking a private lane from the north slope where? madam chair? senator murkowski: we went to fairbanks. senator cass mi: if you had driven that? is one possible? senator murkowski: from where we began it was not possible to fly. we were up in the -- senator cassidy: did you drive? senator murkowski: it was not possible to drive we had to fly. there is a haul road. senator cassidy: to fairbanks, 400. 350. senator cassidy: no road. giving you heck for that. mr. secretary, take that heck. because if you got to see the north slope and there is no road to get back where you need to be, you got to get there somewhere. secretary zinke: i have been shout at before, i'm very comfortable with it. do right, fear no man. do the best you can can. everything i do is scrutinized. i'm willing to take attacks on my sefment i don't like attacks
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on my family, kids. which i get raked all the time. but we're pretty tough. we're a military family. we're pretty tough about it. do right, fear no man. wake up and make sure we're accountable. everything i do is looked at through whole league team, office of ethics. senator cassidy: let me congratulate you for being so gracious regarding your predecessor, secretary jewel, who i guess you point out that she took trips totaling a million dollars in cost. that was very gracious of you. i think you recognize your presence would be very important to somebody in las vegas if they are going over an interior issue. one more thing, we in louisiana have recognized you can't be pro-environmental unless you are pro-business, you can't be pro-business unless you are pro-environmental because one sustain the other. i see that the interior department has spoken of decreasing the royalty rate for
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offshore oil and gas for leases sold later this year from 18.75 12.5. i get that. there's been a real 12.5. i get that. there's been a real difficulty in jump-starting development out there. without the development there won't be money for the land water conservation fund. there is a national interest in that. let me say -- my questions relate to this. how does interior's analysis project the revenues would be impacted if the recommendation is accepted? secretary zinke: certainly the advisory board is just that. an advisory board. they made several recommendations as you point out. one was to remove or lower the royalty rates. put gulf, we are due to up for lease the largest acreage in the history of this country. in the central and western gulf. it will be interesting to see
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what the level of interest we think the interest is good on that. senator cassidy: is the interest sparked by the lowering of the royalty? secretary zinke: the data is, i would say you could go either way in the data. lowering rate, the supply and demand, lowering the rate one could say, well, it increases the production. what we're seeing, though, is more production onshore than offshore. we saw companies like exxon, $50 billion in the wofford onshore. till offshore is more risky. expensive. the gulf has been advantage that you have subc infrastructure -- subsea infrastructure. the gulf has advantages as opposed to both the east and ex. the gulf has been advantage that west coast. i think this lease sale will be bellwether on the offshore. senator cassidy: on the one
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sense you could have increased revenue if you have more production to offset the lower royalty rates. any modeling of that or -- obviously we in louisiana are gerned because go mesa funding is linked to that. and those who get money for the land water conservation fund like wise concerned can. any modeling? secretary zinke: we do have modeling. we'll share with you what we have. it's a supply and demand model. you'll lower the royalties, make it more attractive. production increases. revenue in some cases can increase. what you want to do is make sure your royalties are fair, appropriate, don't penalize production. incentivize overall energy dominance, but make sure that also that you incentivize reliable, incorporating innovation into regulatory scheme. what i'm hearing from the
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industry is regulation that incorporates innovation, best science, and best practices is not punitive. is as much of an economic driver as royalty rates. senator murkowski: thank you, senator cassidy. senator cortez masto. senator cortez-masto: thank you secretary zinke. i want to start with renewable energy. we have had this conversation, the state of nevada 87% of the land is owned by the federal government. our partnership is key. the interaction that we have with alt federal agencies is important to the state of nevada. one of the areas that we have been focused on is renewables. responsible development when solar and geothermal energy on public lands has long had a broad bipartisan support, including from you during your time in congress as a co-sponsor of the public land renewable energy development act. it's played a growing role in our economy.
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solar now sports more jobs than natural goes gast over twice the jobs in coal, according to a 2017 department of energy report. yet for the second year in a row the administration's proposed budget looks at cutting d.o.i. renewable programs by almost half. proposed 50% cut for fiscal year 2018 and 40% cut for fiscal year 2019. looking at these numbers it appears that rural -- renewable energy development is not an important part of the department's charge. if this administration is committed to what i have heard you say time and again, all of the above energy strategy, then why is renewable energy the only energy program that is proposed being cut? secretary zinke: thank you for the question. that was a great question. we looked at the expected demand. the expected demand by all our modeling was about $p -- $73 million. that's what we funded at. down from 20. with solar there are some projects out west, particularly
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in california, that are proposing 338,000 acres of a solar field on federal land. that's 500 square miles. every energy, as you know, every energy source has its consequences. wind chops up birds. i was criticized for saying 750,000. i have the study that says about 800,000, over 800,000 bats and 573,000 birds. that's a study from the usgs. wind chops up a lot of birds. solar when you put a solar field in, it's single use. you are not going to hunt on it. you are not going to recreate on it. and tough for habitat. our policy is all of the above. and there are appropriate places for wind. there's appropriate place for solar. we just have to make sure that we understand the consequences and have a national dialogue.
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it is better to produce energy in this country under reasonable regulation than what you get produced overseas with none. energy is core to our economic well-being. and quite fragely morally tsh-frankly morally to produce energy in this country is morally right. don't want to see your kids have to go overseas and see what i have seen. senator cortez masto: your concern is environmental impacts that solar and wind have that's why you have taken a look at cutting this -- secretary zinke: no. our budget reflects the expected demand. there was great demand in solar early. solar demand -- senator cortez masto: did i not hear you say in offshore drilling there is low demand but you are increasing the budget? i'm confused with the overall energy policy. secretary zinke: what i said was in offshore we'll see.
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with the lease about in march i think it will be a bellwether of interest offshore versus on shore. there is no question that offshore oil and gas is riskier than onshore. secondly, the shale plays -- senator cortez masto: the environmental impact or nobody will come out because it doesn't pencil out? cost prohibitive? secretary zinke: riskier for a number of reasons. one is environmental. when b.p., it's well over $20 billion, $30 billion b.p. has paid. senator cortez masto: the budget has increased for that. we'll submit this for the record. the reorganization, you and i have talked about this. this is a tough thing to do. i have talked to you about the fact that the death valley indian tribal reservation is both on idaho and nevada state land. straddles that. b.l.m. in idaho treats them
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than the b.l.m. in nevada. what i'm looking at now in your map is cutting nevada in half. for your b.l.m. regions. i don't quite understand that. what i'm asking you for is a commitment from you and d.o.i. to work with the stakeholders and governor in the state of nevada to address our concerns. will you be committed to doing that? secretary zinke: i am. i have talked to the governor now i understand he's in support of our plan. if you have a map in front of ou nevada's already divided in multiple regions. we're going to -- our plan has it right now is keeping the b.l.m. directors because almost the states that have b.l.m. enjoy the relationship with having a b.l.m. director, a state director. but our larger issue is trying park ng b.o.r., b.i.a., service, the different -- the bureaus within interior and realigning them to make sure
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we're on unified districts. unified regions. based on water shed and science. you can can see the map on the right is our current organization. you look at nevada, nevada is carved up probably seven or eight different lines. and the map on the left is how proposal. what we have done we brought ou in. these are career proposal. what we have done slooked at science, water shed, wildlife corridors, ecosystems. professionals. senator cortez masto: my time is running out. don't want to get into anybody else's. can i just ask for a commitment that you come back to us and go through this and be willing to talk to us more about what is going on here? we have not had the opportunity to explore this with you and your staff. secretary zinke: absolutely. congress has a critical role in this. that's why it says draft.
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we're introducing it. we'll go through -- can outline the professionals. senator steps we have taken thu far. we're to the draft of where we're. but both the house and senate have an enormous amount of say in this. we think we need the reorganizing unified districts. we're willing to work with it and it was brought out if there adjustment that needs to be made, great. senator murkowski: thank you senator. these are issues on this reorganization that we'll be -- we'll all be learning more adju to be about. but the opportunity to have the one-on-one i think is important. senator gardner. senator gardner: thank you, secretary zinke, for your time and service. thanks for your investment in our public lands and support of the national park restoration act. that will make a huge difference as we get and deal with this backlog of maintenance international park system. evennies mills, the idea behind rocky mountain national park you visited, i'm grateful for your visit, said within national parks room, glorious
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room, room in which find ourselves to think, hope, dream, plan, rest, and resolve. i thank you for the resolve you are showing to address the backlog and other issues facing our public lands. secretary zinke, want to talk bout the conduit, comment than anything, the conduit project is in southeast esh colorado authorized in 19 0's. president kennedy signed the arkansas valley conduit into law. since then we have had a number of people providing resources, dollars, to this pipeline from pueblo, crorks, out toward lamar, hundreds of plus miles of pipeline provide, abundant, affordable watttory some of the most economically distressed areas of our state. the colorado water conservation board has committed $60 million to this project. i know you are very well aware of this. in rural southeastern colorado 50,000 people depend on it. we have had previous with ations
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administration officials. this administration as well as previous administrations, southwest water concertificate -- southeastern water conservancy district. with state of colorado have joined together in working on this. just thank you for your commitment to working with us as we work through the needs of the arkansas valley conduit. just thank you for that commitment. to work with us on that. also thank you as well on the b.l.m. reorganization. headquarters relocation. federal government owns roughly 47% of the land out west. the bureau of land management's esponsible for administering 245 million acres of federal sur vast lands and all but 100,000 acres of those -- that number are will he kated mostly in the 11 western states. 11 western most states and alaska. at the beginning of this congress i introduced the b.l.m. headquarters relocation act. the soul purpose of which is to relocate the headquarters of the agency so people among the lands they manage. i have a number field officials
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and personnel out in the states where the 245 million acres reside. we can get those headquarter employees there as well. i believe decisions are better made when they are made by those communities within those communities are most affected by their decisions. certainly pleased to see within the budget request interior's planning modernization of the organization for the next 100 years. at the top of the list i think it should be relocating the b.l.m. headquarters out west. i would like to plug personally grand junction colorado. some others may have different ideas. i think it's a uniquely qualified location to host it. i just want add brief update on the agency's reorganization process. secretary zinke: thank you. you'll be happy to know anvil point, which has been languishing for decades, has been resolved. he check is in the mail. senator gardner: that is big news. secretary zinke: reorganization. senator gardner: let me stick on that. that's a big deal. it is a big deal. i want to thank you for that. secretary zinke: north
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rolina, for those -- there was commitments made that mooney was in the account but never -- money was in the account but never distributed. you had north carolina, anvil point. the money was being held. but never released for some issue. we have looked at t we have resolved it. -- looked a it. we have reef solved it. resolved it. the government check's in the mail. senator gardner: for the information of the committee. has been mething that resolved. a broken record. scott tipton, myself, others in the colorado delegation have been talking to you, previous administration abouts this. secretary salazar, senators udall, senators saleh dar. everybody has has been involved this. this is $18 million to the people of western colorado. thank you. thank you for that. secretary zinke: my expert has
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said the payment is going to be made march 28. the end of the month. the check's not in the mail but coming. senator gardner: thank you for that. i'll yield back my time and call the county commissioners out there who would be doing hand stands right now. secretary zinke: on the reorganization quickly. 16% of interior is retirement age today. in five years, 40% of interior is at retirement age. so looking at replacement, people retire, looking at pushing more assets out west, it makes a difference if you e a g.s. -- gs-5, gs-7 where you live. san francisco, seattle, washington, are very expensive cities and quite frankly the quality of life if are you a gs-7, gs-5 entry level is difficult for a number of reasons. we're looking at smaller communities out west because as
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tsh-remember the organization there are three areas focused on. recreation, permitting, and nepa. we think we're going to do those jointly. all those don't have to be co-located, but the recreation has to be co-located. the nepa has to be co-located and the permitting has to be co-located. we have 2,600 sites in interior. what we're looking at smaller communities. particularly in areas like b.l.m. and in these different regions where interior folks entry level can enjoy a quality of life, have a chance to buy a house. have a chance to have good schools. good hospitals. we haven't determined where. we think we'll probably have three candidates within the different regions and work with congress to get metric applied to it so we do it by best practices. certainly the smaller towns
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across the west, there are many in everyone's district, is kind of where we're centered on at the moment. >> a couple of quick questions on this royalty issue. has the decision been made or is this a proposal to go down by 35% in the royalties offshore? secretary zinke: no. the decision has not been made. senator king: is there data to support this change? is there economic analysis that somehow the current rate is impairing the ability to lease these properties? secretary zinke: there is data. their recommendations -- senator king: from whom? secretary zinke: to be clear where are we in our energy? the president signed an executive order tasking me to look at energy and prepare -- senator king: i'm soarry. i have a very limited time. is there data to support a 35%
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reduction in the offshore drill that indicates that this is somehow an impediment to the execution of leases? yes or no? secretary zinke: i would say there is an argument. senator king: there's been no economic analysis to justify this massive cut? these are resource that is belong to the people of the united states. we're taking the money out of pockets of taxpayers. secretary zinke: i agree with you. i haven't made the decision because i have not looked at it in detail. there's an argument. an argument on the an argument other side, too. the data is not conclusive. although i have not looked at detail. i just looked at the broad brush -- senator king: any analysis what the cost to the taxpayers would be of this reduction? secretary zinke: there is no doubt when they present the recommendations to me the supporting data will be detail. i just there. senator king: they being the -- secretary zinke: royalty committee. it's an advisory board.
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senator king: could you supply for the committee the names and affiliations of the members of that committee? secretary zinke: sure. tell you that i think the industry -- the energy industry, oil and gas, is doing very well. tell you that so -- current rates, they are doing very well. senator king: you just made my argument. secretary zinke: but i have not made a decision, but when you are producing as a country 10.6 million barrels a day, irst time in 60 years we exporting liquid natural gas, the oil and gas industry is doing very well. senator king: i appreciate that. and i hope you'll apply that analysis to this rather significant change. second question, you made a proposal, or the tept's made a proposal on offshore drilling. i hope you will take into consideration the interests of the states involved in maine during the northeaster last week, a nor'easter we had a turnout at a public meeting.
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i asked my office i bet it was 95% owe possed. they said no, you're wrong. they said it was 100% owe 30esed. legislature opposed it unanimously, our delegation is unanimously in opposition to it. and the coastal economy of maine is enormously dependent upon fisheries, lobsters, and visitors throughout the year. i hope that that will be taken the onsideration because benefit we see is minimal and the cost, potential cost is enormous. secretary zinke: this is what i did. the last administration took about 94% off. whatdy is zero based. i put everything on for discussion. knowing -- senator king: you took florida off. i'm hoping do you the same for maine. secretary zinke: by putting everything on we had a discussion. florida is different for three reasons. one is every member, both sides of the aisle, wrote me an immediate letter said we don't want it. senator king: that's true of maine.
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secretary zinke: second is your governor. governor of maine is for it. and third, florida has a federal moratorium in place until 2022, which no other state has. a federal moratorium. had i left florida off in the beginning, it would have been arbitrary and capricious. i put -- florida is still in the process. senator king: i'm not arguing you made the wrong decision in florida. i'm arguing for a similar decision in maine based on our circumstances. next, different area. park fees. significant increase, i agree with you we need to look at park fees and they should be looked at and part of the aal sifments my problem is, the park fee proposal, the increases are so significant, i wondered if there's been an economic elasticity analysis to determine whether we could end up losing more money than we gain by increasing, for example, for a person from $12 to $30, a vehicle from $25 to $70. those are really significant.
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there could be two results. a reduction in visitation. and also a closing off of the parks to the people of america who we want to have access. secretary zinke: i agree. we have several proposals. we have not made a decision yet because of the data. but you're right. one of the proposals on the table was you look at the peak season on our top 10 parks, that's where the significant increase is. still the greatest bargain is $80 for a year pass. that's the greatest bargain in america. senator king: the greatest bargain used to be the senior pass which i had which was 10 bucks for life. secretary zinke: now it's $ 0 for life. -- it's $80 for life. part of the value of entrance fees is what we want to do is push more flexibility to the park itself. the superintendent. so we're very aware. we haven't made a decision yet. clearly it's on both sides of the issue. we want to make sure that the
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parks remain a value and accessible for america. that's the promise this country made. that's the promise we'll keep. we have not made a decision. i am aware that an increase hurts some families and the intention is not to hurt families. senator king: of the course, motorcycles went from 20 to 50 dollars. for me i'm just kidding, but hen you see a motorcycle change, that gets my attention. i think your answer summarized on all these issues we have been talking about today is data will be collected. data will be made available. and final decision vs. not been made. you will listen to the views of the people of the state involved. is that correct? secretary zinke: as well as this committee on it. so you know about half our parks don't charge. there's also -- we're
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inconsistent on across-the-board on what we charge. a lot of our parks either don't charge or there is a tier system they are not adhered to. that's part of the issue. then what represents the best value? how do we do it? some of our parks when you have yosemite, the experience of visitors experience, is a parking lot, it is so crowded, yellowstone, some of our principal parks, we love them to death. how do we manage people, traffic. do we go to a transporter, public transportation system? because it is untenable, unsupportable, unsustainable the way we're doing -- we're managing our parks. let alone the backlog. all these -- senator murkowski: move on. senator king: i hope it will be done over time and system matically and data driven. senator murkowski: senator lee. senator lee: thank you, madam chair. thank you, mr. secretary, for being here. i want to thank you in
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particular for your leadership and for the president's leadership. in addressing the concerns expressed by people in utah, particularly in southern and southeastern utah, issues related to the designation of the grand staircase escalante national monument and bears ears national monument. i note that some criticism has come your way and the president's way over this, but what you did was courageous and the right thing to do. take for example the people of san juan county, utah. this is utah's poorest county. it's our poorest county in part because nearly all of the land is owned by the federal government. that was the case before the bears ears national monument was designated on december 28, 2016. and it remains the case since then. it also was the case before president trump made the modifications to it and it remains the case now. what changed with the monument
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designation was that people in san juan county, people of utah, particular-l those closest to the monument, were even further put outside of any process that might determine how that land can be used. how they can access that land. sometimes for recreational reasons. many times for religious purposes. as the land is considered sacred by the native american tribes. residing there. this was a big move that was made. and a move that was much appreciated by people across the political spectrum. in communities throughout utah, especially southern utah. and i appreciate and applaud you for doing that. i'd like to talk to you a little bit about a topic i know you and i have discussed a little in the past. it feels with b.l.m. law enforcement. as you know, b.l.m. law enforcement has earned
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something of a poor reputation throughout much of the west. and this is particularly true in rural utah. because of the agency's history , particularly through certain personnel of intimidation, of heavy-handed tactics. and a flagrant and in some cases well documented abuses of authority. one major problem has been b.l.m.'s sometimes blatant digs regard -- disregard for state and local law enforcement. during the last administration, for instance, b.l.m. allowed 12 cooperative agreements with local law enforcement agencies to expire. this flies directly in the face of 12 statutory guidance from to that directs b.l.m. achieve quote maximum feasible reliance upon local law enforcement officials. ogic and the law dictates that
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, this is important and -- logic certainly dictates that minimal help from local law enforcement means maximum strain on the department's resources. that also is going to lead to maximum strain with states and with local communities. affected by these vast swaths of land over which the b.l.m. has charged. this is certainly the case in many places in southern utah. trust between local residents and b.l.m. law enforcement officials has completely deteriorated. i wanted to ask you about what you're doing as the secretary of the interior and what you look forward to doing to change the culture of b.l.m. law enforcement and to maximize reliance on local law enforcement within the west.
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secretary zinke: great question. i have great respect for law enforcement. it's difficult, especially sometimes when you are the only guy out there isolated, duty tations, long ways away from help. there's a lot of activity that's not good on federal lands. this covers b.i.a., covers b.l.m.. but i am in support of cooperative agreements because when you see a b.l.m. truck, the first thing that i would like the public to think about is land management. when you see a b.l.m. light go on behind you, i would like the public to think about maybe there's a lost kid out there. have you seen a grizzly bear, and not get a ticket on a county road. nd we have fired four to readdress. it's about public trust.
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law enforcement individuals have a higher responsibility because they have a badge. and because they have a badge they also have to make sure that the power that is given them is exercised correctly. and heavy-handedness has led to a breach of trust, especially out west. we're very aware of it. we have taken action to restore trust. we think the cooperative agreements are good. when there is an issue, there's been several issues recently out west, i think your first line of defense or first action is probably call the local sheriff. he knows the people. he's an elected official. he's not an appointed federal agent it -- agent. there is goodness of having an elected official take the ction and be the face of
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enforcement. that certain is the direction that interior's headed. senator lee: my time's expired. i would add that is one of the reasons we have a long, proud tradition of local law enforcement in this country for precisely the reasons you described. when we allow the law to be enforced by people who are accountable at the local level, good things happen. correspondingly bad things happen when we have people accountable only to someone 2,000 miles away. i appreciate your leadership. senator murkowski: thank you senator lee. senator hirono. senator hirono: thank you. mr. secretary you noticed several times providing up to $18 million to address the maintnan backlog in our parks and support indian education schools is the largest commitment made. the largest investment in these three areas ever made. but it is an investment if the money materializes. what is the department's estimate of how much funding this proposal would generate on
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an annual basis for tea ferd maintenance for the next eight years because you also testified you think we can can get there in eight years. secretary zinke: if you go back -- good question. if you go back to 2008, interior was the number two generator of revenue in this country behind the i.r.s. a banner year. just an offshore oil and gas the revenue is about $18 billion a year. when we first took office it 2. town to about some was market conditions, some not. given our growth, our projected income, especially with alaska, if they come on line, given that we'll see what the interest s we think we can do it within eight years. best guess of $18 million. we think we can recover that in eight years. senator hirono: this is based on projections from new energy. secretary zinke: what we did
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we took a base line. congress has to -- the executive doesn't have the power. it's in the budget. but it has to have a companion bill to it. what we did we looked at in the budget of taking a base line, in 2017, about 2.6. new energy is all of the above. solar, includes wind, in -- senator hirono: do you believe it's quite certain you will be able to raise at least two and a fourth billion dollars every year in new money for maintenance and this is something that can be relied upon so the n.p.s. employees how much funding to expect? secretary zinke: i would say it's a better bit than funding lwcf or our park system at the moment. the reason why we have $11st
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billion in backlog, we as a country have not been able to address a backlog that we all know is there. i don't give criticism of the house and the senate. i was a member of the house. our current system doesn't provide any asurety either. senator hirono: senator portman mentioned there is a bill to guarantee this funding. that is possibly a bert way to go. you mentioned several times that you -- your argue bases decisions among other things, science. do you believe that science and scientists within your department should feel free and unafraid of political interference to present their science, even if it includes the words, climate change? secretary zinke: i believe -- i'm a strong believer of science. quite frankly i was criticized because i tsh-my right as interior to look at a usgs document as it pertained to alaska prior to publication. i didn't change a comma.
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but i did want to know this. given the same data why were the energy resources so radically different between one study and a study that was done just a few years prior? what methodology did they use as a geologist, what methodology it they use for making sure those resources are recoverable? senator hirono: you referred to usgs report where the report stated that, quote, global climate change drives sea level rise, increasing the frequency of coastal flooding. this is a scientific study done by usgs. your department released a press release on this report but it excluded the reference to global climate change driving sea level rise. his is why i ask the question. reports that use the terms climate change, do you edit those out? do you censor -- secretary zinke: i don't believe the report itself it
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was edited at all. the press release could have been interpreted because it is a press release not the report. reference, any allegation that one of the -- senator hirono: i have to correct you, mr. secretary. paper, abstract, did have that sentence which you did -- you exclude interested your press release. this isn't the first time the issue of whether or not this administration after it believes climate change is science based. so this is why we have some concerns about what the polcy of your department is. whether your scientists are able to make certain statements based on their science that includes the terms climate change. if you're sitting here telling me you do not censor or edit out references to climate change, great. pleas answer yes or no. secretary zinke: are you suggesting that we changed the
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document itself -- senator hirono: i'm asking you whether the words climate change somehow is not acceptable in our department and various releases and your preference would be within your department not to refer to climate change. secretary zinke: i don't have a problem with climate change. i have always said three things. cly mate's changing as it always has. it's changing in ways we don't understand. and man has been an influence on this. i don't think those are in dispute. senator hirono: you would not edit those those references in various publications -- secretary zinke: there is no incident, no incident at all that i know that we ever change add comma on a document itself. we may have on a press release, this is how we announce it. i don't know of any document we have changed. and i challenge you, any member, to find a document that we have actually changed on a report. all.d them
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i don't change a comma of them. tell you as secretary of interior, i know i have the right, they work for me, to read it pry to and i have questions on it. i'm a geologist. why did they come up with this conclusion? i think i have a right to in a moment senator hirono: based on everything we know about this administration's tell you as se interior, i know i have the right, they work for me, views climate change t. would not -- it would comport with that view that words such as climate change would not be included in press release from your department. thank you, madam chair. senator murkowski: secretary inke, i think you clear in terms of your views on climate and the fact within the department you're not altering the reports that are coming out from the terms of your agencies. senator danes. senator danes: senator zinke, always an honor to have you before this committee. i want to first start by thank you -- thanking you for working with me and others in introducing the national parks restoration act. as chairman of the subcommittee low tional parks, as a fel
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montanan, secretary zinke, we didn't get to pick where we got to grow up, so grateful both of us got to grow up in montana. i also want to tell you i'm very proud you are the first montanan to ever serve on a president's cabinet in our nation's-tsh state's history. proud of that. we both grew up in the shadows of two of our national park system's crown jewels, secretary zinke, group in the shadow of the glacier national park. i grew up close to yellow stone national park. i know addressing the maintenance backlog in our national parks has been a priority for both of us. i also want to stress the importance of addressing the issues of sexual harassment in work force environment issues that i know you are working on at the department of interior. with the recent reports of other federal agencies and more particularly the u.s. forest service, there is a strong need to take this head on across the federal agencies